Saturday, August 8, 2015

Can Google Classrooms replace a LMS like Moodle for some uses?

We use Moodle as a LMS for some of our remote learning work.  We don't love it. I'm looking for an alternative. Right now, Canvass by Instructure is the hot LMS but it seems to have gone from free open source to commercial and pricey. Their website is full of "Try it Free" and if you have questions, "Fill in this form" but there's not mention of pricing anywhere which makes me think it's pricey!

I've heard noise about Google Classrooms and I'm trying to ascertain what it is and what it isn't.

Google says:  Classroom is a new tool in Google Apps for Education that helps teachers create and organize assignments quickly, provide feedback efficiently, and easily communicate with their classes. More....It's a suite of productivity tools...

Classroom is only available for Google Apps for Education users at this time.

Here's my question. Can I use Google Classrooms instead of Moodle as a way to give out assignments, collect them, grade them, return them? 

I asked on a Google forum and was told:

"...  Google Classrooms does not offer a core comprehensive grade book or other traditional features found in other LMS solutions.

I asked whether Google Forms could be used with Classroom as a way to get assignments from students.

Answer: "there currently isn't an embedded Forms or Quizzing feature within Google Classroom but using Google forms is still a very useful way to collect data or quiz students."

When I checked on Google forms to see it could handle the technology enhanced features required for CCSS assessments, I see that Google Forms supports these data types:
Google Forms Supports These Inputs
The test sounds like a short answer input. Paragraph is longer. Multiple choice is what it sounds like.  However, I don't see any way to use this for automated grading.  I can't imagine why Google hasn't added a basic set of LMS features since it set up teachers and classrooms. I wonder if they would accept a third party to develop it..

Here's the Google forum discussion:

Does Moodle Support the Technology Enhanced Items for Assessment in the Common Core

Does Moodle's LMS support the seven new technology enhancements to  Common Core tests?

One user of Moodle (Plymouth University, UK) says that these types of questions are available in Moodle: (Links go to Moodle documentation)

What are the technology enhancements to  Common Core tests from PARC and Smarter Balance.  Edudemic has a good article which reviews

1. Drag and Drop: This item type does exactly what the name implies. Students need to drag an item from one part of the screen to another. IS it click, drag, click to drop?
2. Multiple Select: This item type is most similar to a traditional standardized test format. It is a multiple choice question, but instead of just one correct answer, there are many, and students must choose all of them to get the question correct.

3.Text Selection/Highlighting: This item type requires students to click on words, phrases, or entire sentences as a way to answer questions about specific parts of a text.

4. Equation Builder: This item is like a mini word processor that includes specialized mathematical symbols, ranging from simple division signs to more complex trigonometric symbols, such as sin and cosine. WILL THIS SHOW UP ON LANGUAGE ARTS TESTS?

5. Drop Down Menus: This item type includes a menu that expands when clicked on. From the expanded menu, students can see possible answer choices. They click on the word or number that completes the answer, based on context.

6.Constructed Response: This item is an embedded word processor. It has simple word processing functionality, like the ability to change text size and style and to cut, copy and paste.

7. Multiple Part Question: This item is not a new item type; rather it is a new way of organizing items. The Multiple Part Question asks related, tiered questions using a combination of other enhanced item types.

The new generation of advanced standards, mostly the Common Core, has a new generation of tests, mostly from Smarter Balance and PARC. There are of course the Texas and Florida versions of the standards and a few others.

The FL standards are different than the Common Core standards in a number of truly insignificant ones. But, by Governor Dick Scott demanding that Florida not use the Common Core, he becomes a hero to some people on the right. He also  forces all the teachers and educators in FL to spend millions of hours trying to slightly rejiggle all those great common core materials into something they can use to support their work by doing a crosswalk of the national materials to their local needs.

Who are the big technology education companies with the expertise that I need:

Classroom Revolution